M&M Moments: Can I Sit With You?

“Can I sit with you?” It’s phrase I’ve heard hundreds of times in the past few years. I usually hear it at a restaurant near the end of a meal. It’s a request that comes from one if not both of my twin daughters. They love to snuggle and sit in the lap of my wife and I, even though they are quickly growing up. They turned 7 in March.

We usually enforce the rule that we have to finish eating before they can sit with us. It’s difficult to eat with one or two seven year olds sitting between you and your food and vying for your attention. But sometimes I break my own rule. They won’t be this little for ever.

We have a meal every Wednesday at church before the service, and inevitably, I hear the phrase once again. “Can I sit with you?” It’s usually from Mattie, and she works as hard as she can to get and keep my attention. Her and her sister love their daddy.

Why do they do this? They do it because they love their parents so much and they long to be close to us and gain our attention and affection.

I was thinking about this common occurrence the other day when James 4:8 came to mind: “Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you.” Just as my girls long to be close to their daddy, how much more should we desire this with our Heavenly Father? When was the last time you asked God “Can I sit with you?”

Yet, we’ve grown up too fast. We’ve moved on from the childlike wonder and awe of our loving Father. We run to and fro and fill our lives with things that, for the most part, don’t matter, when all our Father wants is for us to sit with Him for a while.

How long has it been since you sat in your Father’s lap for a while and vied for His attention? How long has it been since you have sat and read His Word and longed to know Him better? How long has it been that you just wanted to spend time with Him just because you love Him so much?

One day my girls will grow up and they won’t sit in my lap any more. They’ll move on with their lives, but I hope and pray they’ll always long to sit with their daddy. I try hard to cherish each “Can I sit with you” because I never know when the last one may come.

We may grow too old to sit in our earthly father’s lap, but, praise God, we’re never too old to crawl into the lap of our Heavenly Father, lay our head on His chest and spend time with Him. He has promised to return our affection if we will just draw nigh unto Him. He won’t force His love on us. He only grants it when we ask. Seek His love today.

Troubleshooting Truth – Step #1 Know the Construction Methods

I spent many years as a service electrician. This position required the ability to perform a wide variety of electrical tasks. I had to be able to wire a new house, remodel a commercial space, repair industrial equipment, install generators, and perform many other electrically related jobs. But one of the main tasks of a service electrician is troubleshooting. Webster’s defines a troubleshooter as “an expert in discovering and eliminating the cause of trouble in mechanical equipment, power lines, etc.”

There are many steps in troubleshooting, but one of the first is to Know the Construction Methods. When trying to repair an electrical problem, it helps to know how the building you are working on was wired and what methods were used. The main types of wiring used over the years are knob and tube, cloth, conduit, romex, and mc cable. Knowing which type was used can go a long way toward finding the problem. If you know how it is supposed to work, it can make it easier to repair a problem.

How can this approach help us troubleshoot the truth of the Bible? We’ve assessed that the situation is that Jesus claimed to be God. To the world this is a major problem. We must troubleshoot this problem and see if we can find a solution. Knowing the construction methods is one step in Troubleshooting Truth. But what are the construction methods of the Messiah? Let’s investigate and see if this helps us come closer to a solution to this age old problem.

The blueprint or construction methods of the Messiah was laid out in amazing detail throughout the Old Testament. Isaiah 53 is a remarkably accurate description of Jesus’ life that was written nearly 750 years before He was born. Here are some of the predictions Isaiah wrote:

 

“1 ¶ Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Isaiah 53

In 1947,the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves east of Jerusalem and among them there was a complete copy of the book of Isaiah. This scroll was dated to 100 years before Jesus was born. It is undeniable that the prophecies were made before Jesus was born and they were fulfilled with amazing accuracy.

How remarkable are these prophecies? Peter Stoner, Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College, wrote in his book titled “Science Speaks” the probabilities that these prophecies would be fulfilled by chance. He calculated that the probability that Jesus fulfilled just 8 of the Old Testament prophecies by chance was one in 10 to the 17th power. That’s 10 with 17 zeros behind it! And there are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that Jesus fulfilled.

Here are some of the construction methods required of the the Messiah:

1 – He would come from the human race (Gen 3:15)

2 – He would come from a section of the race (Gen 9:26)

3 – He would come from a nation of that section of the race (Gen 12:1-3)

4 – He would be a descendant of Isaac (Gen 17)

5 – He would be a descendant of Jacob (Num 24:17)

6 – He would be a from the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10)

7 – He would come out of a family of the tribe of Judah (Jesse) (Is 11:1,2)

8 – He would come from a certain household of Jesse (David) (2 Sam 7:6-16)

9 – He would be born of a virgin of the household of David (Is 7:14)

10 – He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

11- He would be sold (Zechariah 11:12,13)

12 – He would be crucified (Ps 22)

13 – He would be raised from the dead (Ps 16:10, 30:3)

God laid out a blueprint for how the Messiah would be built. We can clearly see how the Messiah was supposed to work. Jesus was constructed perfectly according to the specifications.

A few years ago, I was working at the local Salvation Army headquarters. It was located in an old historic house. I was working on replacing a light fixture and I touched the hot wire that I thought was dead. I had turned the switch off, so I was confident that there was no electricity on the wire. It gave me one of the worst shocks I ever received. This house was wired with knob and tubing, and sometimes the electricians of that era would switch the neutral wire instead of the hot wire. This practice was later forbidden by the code due to the dangerous condition that it created. I was not aware of this which resulted in a shocking experience. I was unfamiliar with the construction methods.

The same is true with those who discount the prophecies of Jesus. They create a dangerous situation because they never familiarize them with the truth of the claims of the Old Testament. My unfamiliarity created a momentary discomfort, but the unfamiliarity of the truths of the Bible can create have eternal consequences. Take them time to Know the Construction Methods of the Messiah so that you may find eternal life.

Our first step in Troubleshooting Truth is to Know the Construction Methods and we’ve briefly shown how the Messiah was designed and constructed with amazing accuracy.

Assessing the Situation

It was a warm Friday afternoon and I was just finishing a long day at work. I was working at the local Ford dealership when I saw the clouds rolling in. I could tell by the way they looked that a bad storm was rolling in. The high clouds were moving in a different direction than the lower clouds. We took cover as the storm hit.

Shortly after the storms passed, my boss was on the phone with our local power company. He was always quick to volunteer our services after a bad storm. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then we were off to work. Trees and limbs were down everywhere and there was a lot of damage to the electrical infrastructure.

I had only been doing electrical work for a little over a year and I had no idea what I was getting into. We spent all night out rebuilding people’s electrical services where the power company could reconnect their power. I would wind up working 22 hours nonstop. The temperature was in the 70’s when the storms rolled in, and, by the time I finished working the next morning, it was snowing. It was a long night.

There are many steps to repairing electrical damage, but the first one is to assess the situation. Without doing this, we wouldn’t know what the problem was, what needed to be done to remedy they situation, what material to go pick up, and how long it would take. We would begin the demolition work while my boss went to get material. But none of it would be possible if we didn’t assess the situation.

It seems like assessing the situation would be common sense. It certainly is in the electrical field, but when it comes to the Bible, some people never seem to take this first step. They reject the Bible and Christianity before they even assess the claims it makes. They take what others say, and things they have read and never investigate it for themselves.

Such was the case for Lee Strobel, an investigative journalist for the Chicago tribune and a staunch atheist. He rejected Christianity before even giving the evidence a chance. The conversion of his wife to Christianity led him on a journey to attempt to debunk her newfound faith. The evidence he found was so overwhelming, that he converted to Christianity and is now one of its most fearless defenders.

But none of this would have taken place had he not assessed the situation.

What is the situation in the Bible that we must assess? On it’s most basic level, the situation is there is a man who claims to be God. Jesus Christ of Nazareth, son of a carpenter made the most extraordinary claims that anyone has ever made. He claimed to forgive sins, be one with God, and that he would resurrect from the dead. If someone made claims like this today, they would be labeled a madman, yet the world’s largest and most influential religion sprang forth from this carpenter.

May I challenge you to take this first step. Assess the situation. Read Jesus’ words. Start with the book of John and see what the claims are. Then do some investigating to see if these things are true. It may change your eternal destiny.

This is the first in a series of posts I will be writing entitled “Troubleshooting Truth.” In the electrical field, we troubleshoot problems in an attempt to repair a problem. The first step is to assess the situation. Even the Bible gives examples of those who investigated the claims. “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:10,11

Come along with me as we troubleshoot the truth of Christianity.

Eager to return

 

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They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I recently found out how true this was on a missions trip to Brazil. It was a trip with the purpose of laying block for a new church building. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. What made it more significant was the fact that I had never flown before.

The day to leave quickly approached and I made all the preparations to leave. We were scheduled to meet at the church at four in the morning and I set my clock for three. My alarm went off quickly since packing and nerves kept me up until midnight.

My wife instructed me to wake her up where she could tell me goodbye. The hardest part of the trip was not the nine hour flight, or the strenuous labor involved in laying block. The hardest part was saying goodbye.

We embraced each other tightly and the tears began to flow. It was the hardest thing to let go. Then, I stepped into my twin baby girls’ room to see them before I left. They were only seventeen months old and they were sleeping soundly. The tears flowed once more.

I said another goodbye to my wife and got into my truck to leave for the church.

Upon arriving at the airport in Brazil, I was pleased to learn that they had free wifi. I was able to send my wife a few texts via iMessage before we left for a two hour bus ride. It was nice to make contact with home.

There was also wifi at the missionary’s house and I was able to FaceTime my wife and girls with my iPad. The girls loved seeing their daddy’s face.

As enjoyable as the trip was, I was eager to be with my girls again. The whole experience brought new meaning to “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

This experience brought to my mind the departure of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It says in Acts 1:
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven”
And in John:
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”

If I was missing my family and so full of eagerness to see them, I can only imagine the desire Jesus has to be with His children. I was gone for 9 days. Jesus has been gone for 2000 years.

And I know that the tremendous love I have for my family pales in comparison to the infinite love Jesus has for us. He must long to be with us more than we can imagine. I know He desires to return soon.

Even so come, Lord Jesus

Thanks

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THANKS be to God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15.

“Thanks” is defined in the original Webster’s dictionary as follows:
THANKS, noun generally in the plural. Expression of gratitude; an acknowledgment made to express a sense of favor or kindness received. Gratitude is the feeling or sentiment excited by kindness; thanks are the expression of that sentiment. Luke 6:1.

I’ve thought a lot this thanksgiving about what “thanks” actually is and I think it is really hard to define. It’s like grace. We experience it and feel it, but it’s difficult to put into words. I am so thankful to God and I could write a long list of things I’m thankful for, but it’s more than that to me. It’s an overflowing of the heart.

Webster’s defines it as acknowledging a favor or kindness received. That seems insufficient to describe what I feel towards Jesus Christ my God. The things He has done for me far surpass the ability of human expression to describe. Thankfulness to me is an experience more than an expression.

I compare it to my twin baby girls. I refer to them often in my blog because, as a father, I can relate to how God must interact with us. They are so young they can’t comprehend all that we do for them. Their needs are met and they are too young to even comprehend that their mother and I work hard to provide for them. When they’re hungry, food is there. We provide shelter and clothing and they don’t understand all we do for them. It is beyond their comprehension at this point. But one day they will understand.

This is how God must feel toward us. He works mightily on our behalf in ways we can never comprehend on this earth, but one day we will be fully mature and understand all He has done. And we will give thanks for all eternity.

As I grow older, I understand more and more what my parents did for me, and one day, my baby girls will understand the same. I hope they will be grateful.

So this thanksgiving, I’m “thankful”. I don’t come to God with a list, but with a feeling in my heart that I’ll never fully understand until I see Him face to face.

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who bore my pain;
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again;
Who crushed my curse of sinfulness
And clothed me in His light
And wrote His law of righteousness
With pow’r upon my heart.

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly;
Whose ev’ry promise is enough
For ev’ry step I take,
Sustaining me with arms of love
And crowning me with grace.

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To him who reigns above,
Whose wisdom is my perfect peace,
Whose ev’ry thought is love.
For ev’ry day I have on earth
Is given by the King;
So I will give my life, my all,
To love and follow him.
– Keith and Kristen Getty

M&M Moments: Clean Slate

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We recently bought our twin girls, Mattie and Macie, a set of cheap magna doodles. My wife purchased them at a local store for three dollars. The girls loved them. Mattie especially loved hers and she wanted to take it everywhere she went. She held it while she ate, took in the car and she even took it to church. She would cry if we took it away.

If you’re not familiar with the magna doodle, it is a drawing board that utilizes magnets to create an image with a special magnetic pen. As you move the pen along the surface of the board, tiny magnetic particles come to the surface to form the image you are drawing. The image can quickly be erased by sliding a plastic handle from one side to the other. Then you have a clean slate on which to draw.

The girls loved to sit in my lap and scribble on the magna doodles. I would try to draw silly characters and faces for them, but, before I could finish, they would always scribble on my drawing or move the lever to erase it. They never seemed to let me finish.

This simple story reminds me of a lesson The Lord taught me while I was having my devotions. I was studying in Exodus and ran across this passage:

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.
And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.” – Exodus 34:1-4

The Lord had given the children of Israel the law written by the His own finger on tablets of stone. When Moses came down from mount Sinai to present the law, he was horrified to find Israel worshiping an idol that they had constructed. They had broken the very laws Moses came to give them. Moses threw down the tablets and destroyed them, and God judged His people.

Being a God of second chances, The Lord told Moses to chisel out two new stones and bring them up the mountain where God could write the law on them again. Moses went to God with a blank slate.

This is a perfect picture of our fallen nature. We come to God with prayers and petitions and He lays His will and way on our hearts, and, before we know it, we’ve broken God’s laws. We want our way and our agenda accomplished and seldom do we sit in the lap of God and receive His instruction. We never let Him finish. Just like my twin baby girls, we paint a primitive picture of how we want our life to be. We fail to wait and let the Divine Artist finish His masterpiece.

We need to come before God with a blank slate. We need to leave behind our selfish wants and ambitions and sit at the feet of the Master and receive His instruction. As we yield the pen, He will paint a picture more beautiful than we can conceive. Let us lay aside our list of petitions and open our ears to the wants and desires of our Heavenly Father.

Eventually, the magna doodles broke. The pens lost their tips and the handle didn’t work right anymore, and the girls have moved on to playing with other things, but I’ll never see a magna doodle again without thinking of the lesson of Moses and his blank slate. May we always come before God in this manner.

“But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” – Luke 11:28

Marvelous Monotony

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In every thing give thanks:for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thess. 5:18

Life is full of monotony. In other words, our lives are made up of daily routines. And let’s face it: our routines can be pretty boring, and mine is no exception. I get up, use the restroom, get a glass of tea, sit in the recliner, read my Bible and pray, get dressed, make my lunch, leave for work at 7:15, and I arrive at the same time every day. There’s probably a rut forming in my daily path. And guess what? I do the same thing every day.

The evening is usually more of the same with some variety. It’s a little more fun because I get to spend time with my twin baby girls, but it still involves routine and monotony. When they were little, we even alliterated their routine: bath, bottle, bed. They don’t drink a bottle anymore, but we basically do the same thing every weeknight.

Most of life is this way. It’s full of monotony. The mountain tops and the adventures of our life are few and far between. In the meantime, we grind out the routines that make up the majority of life. This can lead to frustration and often depression. We wonder why our lives aren’t more exciting.

Recently, some trials have come into the lives of some of our friends that have refocused my perspective. A dear friend of mine that I’ve known my whole life found out a few weeks ago that his five year old daughter has cancer. They arrived home from a vacation to Disneyworld and she stopped breathing. They called an ambulance and eventually had to airlift her to a children’s hospital. In an instant their world was turned upside down. Now they begin the long road to recovery.

Another friend of my wife’s just died on the interstate. He was hit by a tractor trailer. He left behind four kids and a wife. Their lives were torn apart.

Stories like this bring new appreciation to the routines and methods in life. I am more thankful for bath time with the girls, chores around the house, normal conversations with my wife, and sweet tea in the mornings. A boring life is a blessed life. We are to be thankful to God in all circumstances, but it’s in the every day monotony of life that we should say extra thanks.

I am thankful for healthy daughters, a roof over my head, a job that I go to every day, and the freedom to worship. I am thankful for monotony.

Good times come and go and trials will visit us, but for this moment, let us bask in the boring. Let us be thankful for the dry deserts. Let’s cherish the comfortable.